Women Refuse Abortion

H/T: Interfax-Religion

Half of pregnant women in a town near Perm refuse to have abortions after priest’s sermon

Perm, August 28, Interfax – In Chaykovsky, the Perm Region, 40 percent of women visiting women’s health clinic refused to terminate their pregnancy after talking to an Orthodox priest.

Women in Chaykovsky are issued an abortion appointment only after a mandatory sermon of Father Igor, a priest in St. Trinity church, a Perm issue of Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper reports Friday.

During such meetings, women are asked to fill in questionnaires which include such questions as “If you have a child already, and you learn that he/she has drowned a kitten, will you punish your child for that?”, “Are you ready to meet the soul of your child after death?”, “If a criminal states in court that he murdered someone because his apartment was too small, will he be acquitted?”, “Could you ever have a look after abortion on what has been taken out of you?”

Father Igor talks to Muslim women, too.

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Twelvth Sunday after Pentecost

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The term “young” is quite relative. What a twelve year old, for instance, might consider to be young compared to someone, say, in their sixties are two different things. The gospel this morning describes how a “young man” approaches Jesus asking Him, What good thing must I do that I may have everlasting life? The reading this morning (Matt. 19:16-26) is taken from the gospel according to St. Matthew but this encounter is also recorded in Mark’s as well as Luke’s gospel. Interestingly enough, it’s only Matthew that describes this man as being “young”.

Regardless of just how young (or not-so young) this man was, one thing is certain – he had a very immature way of thinking. There is no other way to explain how he could compare the value of “eternal life” to the transient value of worldly riches. When our Lord tells him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come follow Me” the gospel continues, “when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions” (v. 21,22). The fact that dedication to God requires sacrifice on our part should not be surprising to us. I would imagine that it’s even logical for us to think in these terms. What is hard to understand from this gospel reading, however, is the fact that Jesus even had to say this to this young man. After all, Jesus answered his question in three words; He did this right away at the beginning of their conversation when He says, “If you want to enter into life keep the commandments.”

If it’s just the commandments we need to keep, this young man concluded, “all these I have kept from my youth.”  If there is anything which should cause alarm to Christians reading this morning’s gospel I suppose it would be the message that it conveys to us that even if we keep all the commandments we can still come up short with respect to eternal life. Indeed, the message is that what God requires of us is not a legalistic observance of the “thou shalt not do this-es” and the “thou shalt not do that-s” but a true and sincere surrendering of ourselves to Him. This is – in a nutshell – what Christian stewardship is all about: knowing that there is no earthly value that can compare to the treasures of God’s Heavenly Kingdom and therefore giving all of our worldly gifts and talents to the spreading of the glory of God.

The young man in this morning’s gospel didn’t want to lose his many possessions so he walked away from Jesus. But what did he really lose? The gospel this morning gives us an answer to that question for when the young man approached Jesus he addresses Him as “good Teacher”. To this the Lord responds, “No one is good but God alone”.

This is what this young man has lost – he has lost God, who is the sole source of eternal happiness. And for all the many treasures, all the many goods we are to gain during our lives this is that one thing we can never allow ourselves to lose – we are never to lose God from our lives. As our Lord says at place in the gospels, “”For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matt: 16:26).   It is no wonder that the young man is described to have walked away in sorrow. But may this or any of the gospel messages we hear at the liturgies ever give us reason to walk home from church filled with sorrow. Instead, may God instill in us the strength to endure to the end, to remain faithful to Him, always glorifying Him: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

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I remain indebted to Fr. Patrick Reardon’s Daily Reflections for his most helpful notes

A Summer Pascha

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SYNAXARION

On the 15th of the month, commemoration of the all-revered Translation of our most glorious Lady and ever-virgin Mary.

(Hat-tip)

w_104_lghen Christ our God was well pleased to take to himself his own Mother, three days before he told her through an Angel of her translation from the earth. It is the moment, He said, to take my Mother to Myself. Do not then be any way troubled by this, but accept my word with joy, for you are coming to immortal life. And she, in her longing for her translation to her Son, went up the mount of Olives with haste to pray (for it was her custom to go up there to pray). Then there took place a marvel; for the plants on the mount bowed themselves down of their own accord and like living slaves accomplished fitting reverence to their Lady. After her prayer she returned home and at once the whole house was shaken. She prepared many lights and having given thanks to God she invited her relatives and neighbors. She swept the house and prepared the couch and everything needed for the burial. She explained everything which had been told her by the Angel about her translation to heaven and as confirmation of her words showed the reward that had been given her, which was a palm branch [from Paradise]. But the women who had been summoned on hearing this poured out lamentations and tears and lamented with cries of grief. When they ceased their lament they begged her not to leave them orphans. She assured them that when she had passed over she would watch over and protect not only them but the whole world. Much of their grief was assuaged by these words of consolation which she spoke to the bystanders. Then she gave instructions about her two tunics, that the two poor widows who were customarily with her and known to her and who received from her what was required for their nourishment should take one each.

While she was detailing and arranging this, there suddenly came the sound of mighty thunder and the arrival of many clouds from the ends of the earth bringing Christ’s disciples together to the house of God’s Mother. Among them also were the Hierarchs, wise in God, Denys the Areopagite, Hierothoes and Timothy. When they learned the reason of their presence together they spoke to her as follows: While we saw you, Lady, remaining in the world, like our Master and Teacher himself, we were comforted; but how shall we now bear the suffering? But since by the wish of your Son and God you are passing over to the regions beyond the world, we rejoice for the things that have been so disposed for you. As they said this they wept profusely. But she answered them: Friends and Disciples of my Son and God, do not turn my joy to sorrow, but bury my body just as I have arranged it on the bed.

When these things had been completed, Paul the inspired vessel of election arrived. He fell at the feet of God’s Mother, worshipped and opening his mouth uttered a great eulogy of her, saying: Hail, Mother of life and subject of my preaching. For though I never saw Christ, in seeing you I seem to see him. Then the Virgin took leave of all. She lay down on the bed and arranged her all-pure body as she wished. She prayed for the conservation of the world and for peaceful life. She filled them too with blessing through her, and so committed her spirit into the hands of her own Son and God.

At this Peter began the funeral hymns. The rest of the Apostles took up the bier and accompanied the body that had received God to the grave, some going in front with lamps and hymns, others following behind. At this the rulers of the Jews stirring up some of the crowd persuaded them to try to upset the bier on which the life-giving body had been placed and to throw it to the ground. But already punishment came upon those who dared such things, and they were all smitten with blindness. One of them, who attempting even greater folly had touched the sacred bier, was deprived of both his insolent hands. They were severed by the sword of punishment and left hanging from the bier. He remained a pitiable sight until, after he had come to belief with his whole heart and found healing, he was restored to health as before. So too part of the covering of the bier, when placed on those who had been blinded and come to belief, gave them healing. When the Apostles reached Gethsemane they laid the life-giving body in the grave and remained there for three days responding to the unceasing voices of the Angels.

But when, by divine dispensation, one of the Apostles, who had been absent from the burial of the life-giving body, arrived on the third day, he was greatly grieved and distressed that he had not been found worthy of what they had. All his fellow Apostles, who had been found worthy, by a common vote opened the tomb for the sake of the Apostle who had been absent, so it seemed good to all, for him also to venerate that all-blameless body. When they looked they were amazed. For they found it empty of the holy body, and containing only the winding sheet, which remained as a consolation for those who were about to grieve and for all the faithful, and as a sure witness of the Translation. For even until today the tomb hewn from the rock is visible and venerated, and remains empty of a body, to the glory and honor of our most blessed Lady, Mother of God and ever-virgin Mary.

At whose holy intercessions, O God, have mercy and save us, as you are good and love mankind.

Unconventional Notions about Hell

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Regarding my earlier topic of praying for the dead in light of the Lord’s words who throws the bad servant among the torturers “until” he should pay back his debt, I remembered reading this in Kyriacos Markides’ The Mountain of Silence:

“When I had once raised my concerns with Father Maximos, he reassured me by saying, ‘The only thing we can be totally certain about is that God will judge us with absolute love and absolute compassion.’

Father Maximos’ solutions, however, did not quench my interest in thinking about such issues.  That evening as I began reading about the work of Saint Gregory of Nyssa, one of the Cappadocian fathers who, along with his brother Saint Basil the Great, played a key role in the formulation of early Christian theology, I came across some material which, to my surprise, related directly to the issues which had preoccupied us that very afternoon…

‘The purpose of human life,’ wrote the author, referring to Saint Gregory’s theology, ‘is the attainment of the absolute good, the attainment of perfection. This is achieved through a long, painful and arduous march which has as a starting point the cultivation of virtue and as an end point the attainment of Theosis…This is the struggle of all human beings, particularly that of ascetics, the true philosophers.’

With great fascination I continued to read further on Saint Gregory’s beliefs concerning Hell, which was perceived by him as a state for the therapy of the soul. I read on: ‘St. Gregory’s thought is based on the conviction of the absolute goodness and love of God…He believes that the torments of hell have as their sole purpose the healing of the soul which means that they are not eternal.’ Here is the answer that I was looking for, I murmured to myself and read further. ‘Therapy is accomplished through fire which is not the fire of the senses but one which is of a mortal nature…After their catharsis the souls then enter into eternity. Some of theme manage to attain their purification during their earthly life while others achieve it during the life to come. Resurrection for Gregory implies our restoration  into our primordial nature state. Human beings, after catharsis and resurrection, will return to God. The endpoint will be like the beginning.’

(…)’At the end even the inventor of evil will be healed in a similar manner. And when everything is restored to its primordial condition, a hymn will be lifted up to God chanted by the entire Creation.’

Saint Gregory’s unconventional notions about Hell and the restoration of the entire Creation did not prevent him from being recognized as a theological leader of the Eastern Church. During the Fifth Ecumenical Council he was declared: Father of Fathers. Yet, the part of Saint Gregory’s theology that referred specifically to the issue of Hell and restoration was put aside and did not become part of the official teachings of the Church, East or West. Instead the vision of the Apocalypse and that of Dante came to dominate the culture of Christendom.”

Accident on Mount Athos – Δυστύχημα στο Άγιο Όρος

Just received this email, don’t know if anyone has more info:

Found more info here
One pilgrim has died and 17 have been injured when the back of a truck they were traveling on came unattached close to Sveti Pavel Monastery in Athos, Greece.

Local police sources stated that two of the injured have been taken to hospital by plane to Thessalonica. The two seriously injured men are said to be a Syrian and a Cypriot.

The group of 25 men who had been on the truck had been on a trip to visit the 1000-year-old monastery Sveti Pavel when the tragedy occurred.

Sveti Pavel is one of the 20 Monasteries of Mount Athos in North Eastern Greece, near the Bulgarian border.

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Δυστύχημα στο Άγιο Όρος
Τελευταία Ενημέρωση στις Δευτέρα, 24 08 2009 23:12
Δυστύχημα με ένα νεκρό και δεκαοκτώ τραυματίες, από τους οποίους οι δύο σοβαρά, έγινε στην περιοχή του Αγίου Όρους. Σύμφωνα με την Αστυνομία, το περιστατικό σημειώθηκε όταν αποκολλήθηκε, κάτω από αδιευκρίνιστες συνθήκες και ανετράπη, η καρότσα οχήματος που μετέφερε είκοσι πέντε προσκυνητές από τον αρ ανά της Ιεράς Μονής του Αγίου Παύλου προς το Μοναστήρι.
Από την πτώση, τη ζωή του έχασε ένας 46χρονος, ενώ δύο άτομα, ένας 71χρονος υπήκοος Κύπρου και ένας 28χρονος υπήκοος Συρίας, τραυματίστηκαν σοβαρά και μεταφέρθηκαν, με ελικόπτερο σούπερ-πούμα, για την παροχή πρώτων βοηθειών, στη Θεσσαλονίκη. Δεκαέξι άτομα που τραυματίστηκαν ελαφρά μεταφέρθηκαν στο νοσοκομείο Πολυγύρου.
Προανάκριση για το συμβάν διενεργεί το Αστυνομικό Τμήμα Αγίου Όρους.